It doesn’t really matter where you’ve travelled to: if you need to get there on a plane, drive through a beachside town and then roll up your trousers to board a small boat that will motor across a magnificent bay to a remote lodge in a nature reserve, it feels exotic and adventurous.
This is more acutely the case when said small boat is subjected to a massive thunderstorm halfway across the bay, with the pelting rain from above joining the windblown wave splash from every other direction to drench at least part of every person on board, regardless of the protection afforded by the cabin area in which you can seek shelter.
Reaching Dugong Beach Lodge safely, we dock to one side of the jetty that leads to reception, because of the massive difference in tide levels: that platform is currently 3m above our heads, and later, at low tide, there will be dry sand where there are now plump white snapper feeding between the jetty’s barnacle-encrusted support pillars.
The storm passes, yielding a more than usually spectacular sunset. The fleeting discomfort of the crossing is instantly forgiven in a ridiculously marketing-friendly moment when, on cue, a pod of humpback dolphins zigzags lazily across the reflection of the dipping sun.
Slow down, switch off
Dugong currently uses a generator for power – there are plans to switch to solar once the necessary infrastructure can be sorted out – and the machine runs for a few hours in the morning and a few in the evening. This necessitates an adjustment of schedules if you’re planning to use electronic appliances all day. Hopefully, that will not be the case, as there is plenty to keep you engaged during the sunlit hours, and there is good Wi-Fi around the lodge’s central dining and bar area, so you can check in with friends and family later on.
Food arrives in generous portions. The menu is small and depends on the best, freshest ingredients that can be sourced, which change from time to time. Most supplies have to follow the same route as the lodge’s guests, as the driving time from Vilanculos, around the edge of the bay, is an exhausting six hours!
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